Swingate sunset

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That was it, really. Looked quite nice at the time.

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Autumnal Swingate.

Just this really.

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The Perfect Storm – London-style.

As if a tube strike wasn’t enough, a decidedly un-British monsoon and a power surge in New Southgate tunnel conspired to hamper my commute home. Having to walk to King’s Cross as there were no buses due for ages and you can imagine the crush when they eventually arrived/sailed straight past. So then waiting for the 6.44, at 6.44 there was no sign of the front 4 coaches that always arrive separately and join uncomfortably.

So very cleverly, avoiding the crush of the people waiting on Platform 9, I snuck round the top and back down a deserted Platform 8 and took this pic.

Vanishing Point

Vanishing Point

So then checking my National Rail app on my phone, I saw the platform had been announced for the 6.53 – Platform 7. I could walk to the ticket barrier end and round that way, but I had the brainwave of getting the lift up to the walkway and down. Easy. Except a few others had the same idea and when the 2 guys and their very muscular dog got in with us, the computer lady said we had to reduce the weight. It took a little for the 2 chaps with the dog to work out what this meant, but the penny dropped and they wandered off.

So we left nearly on time and we seemed to be home and (getting) dry. Then the main carriage lights went off and we were reduced to a crawl. The driver, bless him, used the tannoy to tell us a power surge in the tunnel had buggered the train. Luckily it seemed to get fixed and we carried on… Look no wonder I don’t post on this blog any more. So tedious! Yes I KNOW that was the point…

Fatality Friday.

I’ll have the militant passenger groups up in arms when I say this, but by and large, the trainsĀ  are pretty reliable.

Last week was a bad one, but even though it impacts on my life and affects whether I get to see my kids before bedtime, I can still sympathise.

Monday was a little tenuous. It was too hot – the wrong kind of heat, or perhaps a ‘temperature-related incident’ to use the public announcement vernacular.

Tuesday was unfortunate. Lighting struck overhead lines and caused havoc on trains in and out of King’s Cross.

I witnessed an interesting exchange between 2 commuters. One had obviously had a shit day, the other, not quite so bad. The former insisted that this sort of delay occurred every day, quoting his annual rail card cost for us all to compare with our own.

The other guy insisted that this was the first delay he’d encountered this year. Both were astounded by their counterpart’s argument – though it didn’t escalate from incredulity to abuse or fisticuffs.

The truth lay somewhere in between but neither was in the mood to concede any ground.

Wednesday and Thursday: no problems to report.

So, Friday. When you arrive at King’s Cross you expect to see a scrum on the concourse, but you have a benchmark size in your head and the size of Friday’s scrum was a sure sign that something was awry.

So I sat on a train for nearly an hour without going anywhere. Only after 45 minutes was there any information as to why we weren’t moving – a person struck by a train.

In that moment we’re all wrapped up in our own issues: I’m going to be late. And if you give it any thought at all, the optimist in us all hopes for the best. They didn’t say ‘fatality’ but if you think about it for any length of time, not many people get hit by a train and live to tell the tale.

Alexandra Palace.

So with a combination of crawling and stopping completely, we made it as far as Alexandra Palace. And there it was next to the 20 or so police in hi-vis vests on the platform, the body bag. Occupied.

I looked around the carriage to see if anyone else had noticed. Some were reading the paper, others were following Andy Murray’s semi-final defeat to Nadal. Nobody, it seemed, had the look of someone who’d just seen a corpse in a zip-loc bag.

I saw a dead cat by the side of the road this morning. I hope these things don’t come in threes.

Apocolypse over Stevenage.

Friday. Cloudy. Just before the rain. Quite heavy rain at that. And thunder. And pinkish lighting.

By the power of Greyskull. Hooooo!!!

"By the power of Greyskull. Hooooo!!!"

By the power of Greyskull. Hooooo!!!.

The sky is not a happy bunny.

Oh well, the fact that I’ve posted this and both of you have read this proves that the world didn’t end after all. It was just a few clouds. But it was a close call. Consider it a warning.

At last. The rains. They have come.

It's the shizz!

It's the shizz!

Finally it rained, giving me the chance to see how this Rain Clear stuff works. And I’ve got to say, I’m impressed! Even driving into a moderate headwind, any rain just beads and makes a beeline for the edge of the windscreen long before the wipers come to usher them out of the way. If anyone’s interested, you can get it here.

Misting up.

Got this new stuff through the post last week. Anti-fogging goo for the inside of the car windows and rain run-off stuff for the outside.

Does what it says on the er... box / tube.

Does what it says on the er... box / tube.

For some reason, my Focus seem to steam up like a mother. The recent cold snap has been particularly burdonsome. So I tried the anti-fogging stuff last week and by jingo it seems to work. I applied the raindrop-beading slime to the windows yesterday but my experiment has been foiled – no rain today. I can’t begin to tell you how frustrating that is. More news when the weather decides to play ball.

Parking-wise. Swingate had a choice of about 4 spaces for me this morning. It’s half-term (and Monday at that) but that doesn’t seem to had any effect on the parking situation. Whether Danesgate chimes with the same statistic, for now I cannot say.

Mo’ sno’ on the Fo’.

Running out of snowy puns for captions...

Running out of snowy puns for captions...

Thought we were past the worst of this weather, but my wife hadn’t lied to me on the phone; it really had been snowing again in East Herts. As my train pulled into Stevenage yesterday evening, I felt quite smug seeing the childlike surprise of my fellow commuters: the area was once again wearing its alabaster shroud (that’s trying too hard isn’t it – I’ll stop now). Basically it had been snowing again.

No, it's not a Focus-shaped snowman, it's my motor.

No, it's not a Focus-shaped snowman, it's my motor.

It took a little while to get the snow off all the windows so I could see out. And once I’d got going, I realised that my headlights were pretty useless as they were still covered in snow, so I had to pull into a petrol station and put that right.

It was pretty slippery stuff. The snow was coming down in very fine flakes, so light it was being blown in all directions – often horizontally – and surprisingly it was settling on the road, despite the back end of the rush hour that my car joins most nights around this time.

Saw a few wheel spins but using the driving skills that I’ve been accumulating from the last few days’ I kept the car moving in a prodominantly forward direction – though I could have done without that big van right up my arse for half of my journey (waves fists again – RARR!)…

Parking all over Stevenage.

It’s snow-sprinkled anarchy! Stevenage has turned into one giant car park. People are parking their cars all over the show – mainly because they can’t move them.

Walkern to Stevenage.

Walkern to Stevenage.

Yesterday I spent 2 hours skidding (very slowly) around the outskirts of Stevenage trying to make it to the station. Abandoned cars, a jack-knifed lorry and the abysmal conditions conspired against me. I narrowly avoided getting stuck myself and returned home defiant but defeated.

Pretty. But pretty annoying.

Pretty. But pretty annoying.

Today I persevered but it still took me 2 hours between leaving the house and getting on the train.

Fairlands Way (way slow).

Fairlands Way (way slow).

Gettin' kinda heavy...

Gettin' kinda heavy...

But what a nice train it was – another National Express train making a special stop at Stevenage because of issues on the line and weather and and and… This post was brought to you courtesy of their free WiFi connection.

Snowbound.

There are 3 roads out of my village. I tried my normal one. Fine for the first few hundred yards and then a queue. A long one. The sort where cars are pulling 3-point turns and coming back. I wind down my window and catch one of the retreating vans. There are cars stuck in the snow on a hill and there’s no way through. One down, two to go.

The second road is still going in roughly the right direction but in a roundabout way. It’s also more countryfied and a bit of a gamble, but my options are decreasing.

Whaddya know – I make it through Aston village, past the middle-aged lady in her marooned Clio and make it as far as Stevenage city limits. Civilisation (of a sort). A false dawn. Having made a stop at Sainsbury’s for petrol, chocolate and ‘comfort’ I return to the main road to face complete gridlock. A passing pedestrian happily tells me of the jack-knifed lorry that’s the cause of it all. No joy that way – let’s try the opposite way. Almost as slow. I check my watch; it’s been an hour and 45 minutes since I set off and I’m roughly 3 miles from where I started. Never mind what the trains have in store for me, even if I make it to the station.

Coming back through Aston with my exhaust between my rear wheels...

Coming back through Aston with my exhaust between my rear wheels...

I make a decision. Cut my losses. Go back to the house. Have a cup of tea. Work from home. Struggle up the steep hill, passed the now-abandoned Clio, back the way I came. I’m sliding more laterally than forwards, alarming oncoming traffic but making progress. Slowly.

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